FWX

SKU: 14500
Label:
Metal Blade
Category:
Metal/Hard Rock
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New studio album from the prog metal forefathers. Sadly this will be Mark Zonder's swansong with the band. Musically speaking FWX seems to return back to the lighter progressive rock leanings of APSOG. I don't hear any of the harsher industrial overtones that crept into Disconnected.

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  • Guitarist/vocalist Clay Withrow is the heart and soul behind Vangough.  He's made some fine albums in the past but this is clearly his best as you can tell that he's exerting more of his own vision.  The previous albums were fine slices of progressive metal, bu they were clearly influenced heavily by Pain Of Salvation.  While there is some of that early PoS feel, Between The Madness has more of Clay than Daniel.  Its very angst driven music - from the vocals to the grinding guitar solos.  This is one pissed off band.  Its a non-stop prog metal roller coaster ride.  BUY OR DIE!"Over the last two full-length albums leading up to this, the band’s most important release, one thing is strikingly clear: Vangough has been eating their Wheaties. Whereas the last album couldn't find its center of gravity despite merits and high replay value, "Between The Madness" bridges the gap between Vangough's left brain and right brain. Moreover, the band feels much more balanced with the addition of drummer Kyle Haws. Further, it sounds like mastermind Clay Withrow had pushed himself beyond his limits to expand the Vangough tone palate.On the “Acoustic Scars” EP, Withrow developed a vocal technique that finds full maturation on "Between The Madness:” the rage-sing. Almost a yell, but neither a scream nor a simple vocal fry and free of any pitch interference, Withrow's rage-sing makes the lyrical intent as clear as it can be. The album offers bile to many parties, lyrically, and puts the listener behind a sometimes uncomfortable but necessary first-person perspective: any other perspective simply would not do justice to the intent. Vangough has always been more effective at conveying feelings than telling stories, but never before had the songs had such a natural novel-like flow to them. All the while, Withrow peppers his versatile clean singing with elaborate layers of harmony and polyphony, making for subtly different listening experiences each time.The overall sound hasn't drastically changed, and even shows some musical nods to prior songs. In "Vaudeville Nation," a scathing condemnation of a track, a clever link is established with "Mannikin Parade" around 4:28. The main melody of the latter is re-introduced on guitars in a straight-played manner. Later in the song, a similar "Mannikin Parade" vocal melody emerges in the line "...and burn the circus to the ground," and up through the yell following it. Further, continuing the storyline started with "Road To Blighttown" on the “Acoustic Scars” EP, "Depths of Blighttown" adds a fitting dark and ominous chapter to the story.The added input from Haws and bassist Jeren Martin have made the songs seem more logical, acting as balancing forces. The drumming style of Haws is noticeably organized, nuanced, and thought-out and could be accurately categorized as a blend of the styles of Lamb of God's Chris Adler, Opeth-era Martin Lopez, and Pain of Salvation-era Johan Langell. The mixing job by Sterling Winfield is a stunning step forward for the band as well, and the drum sound is particularly remarkable for its bright, punchy, but balanced character. Lead guitarist Jay Gleason makes several shred-tastic appearances to accentuate the technicality of Vangough's instrumentation, while Justus Johnston and Jose Palacios make appearances on strings to further amplify the feeling of the songs and add a superb creep factor touching on Resident Evil levels at times.No song feels out of place or unessential, with "Infestation," "Schizophrenia," "Vaudeville Nation," "Useless," and "Corporatocracy" as highlights. The dynamic growth between “Kingdom of Ruin” and “Between The Madness” makes this album out to be Vangough's “Blackwater Park,” what many will no doubt cite as the band’s seminal record. Put simply, there has never been a better time to jump off of whatever progressive metal train you've been on and ride with Vangough. "Into the dark I take you," Withrow jabs at us. Make sure your seatbelts are securely fastened." - Metal Underground
    $11.00
  • You know this band is like money in the bank. They don't get a lot of hype but they've never made a bad album. They change singers from time to time but they always come up with a great one. They tinker with the formula from time to time just to keep it fresh but you can always expect great harmonies, blistering leads of guitar and keys and melodies that stick in your head for days on end. Wounded Land was one of the first progressive metal albums I ever heard and really drew me into the genre. Critical Mass doesn't disappoint at all.
    $18.00
  • More keyboard dominated progressive metal from this consistently excellent UK band. This is the first album to feature Mac on vocals.
    $18.00
  • "Marillion seems to be appealing to a commercially-oriented buying demographic with this album. There are parts of this record you'll love, and there are parts ... you might not. The band's work in the Hogarth era is marked by its variability - or some might say inconsistency. Although there have been some dud CDs, arguably including Radiation, Anoraknophobia and marillion.com, each of those records had some excellent songs. Similarly, the great albums had songs that were less than stellar. So it's generally safer to think of Marillion's work in terms of the songs rather than the CDs. Having said that, though - Somewhere Else probably fits somewhere between Marbles and marillion.com stylistically, and it's closer to .com in terms of quality.Somewhere Else doesn't share all of Marbles's progressive elements, its subtleties, or its general appeal. This music is a bit more linear, and it's very vocals-oriented. Steve Hogarth's singing is as emotion-laden as ever, switching effortlessly in and out of falsetto, and very expressive - in the style of "The Invisible Man" or "Angelina" from Marbles, or Radiohead's classic "Creep". But you might wish that he would stop singing for just a few minutes and let some instrumentals shine through. Steve Rothery's legendary guitar work is heard in only a few places, and Mark Kelly provides some very appealing piano lines, but there aren't any instrumentals to into which you can really sink your teeth."Most Toys" is a hard-hitting rocker with very simplistic lyrics that won't have much appeal to Marillion's traditional fanbase, although it might win them some commercial radio time. "Last Century for Man" also has simplistic lyrics with little subtlety, and a catchy melody that stays with you for days. There are no epics here, with 10 songs in just 52 minutes, and the title track (the longest at 8 minutes) is the standout piece with a meandering structure, gently appealing delivery and an almost minimalist approach to the instrumentals. Some might call it sleepy - but it definitely goes into the list of Marillion's better songs. Other highlights are the opening track "The Other Half", and "Thank You, Whoever You Are" - a fairly straightforward piece that features some nice but all-too-brief moments from Rothery's guitar.If Marillion is chasing after radio time, or if they're wooing the Coldplay / Radiohead / Pineapple Thief audience, this song-oriented record will probably get them there. But it will do so at the cost of a significant portion of their progressive rock fanbase." - Sea of Tranqulity
    $13.00
  • "Fair to say their name is still as dislikeable as it was when we covered their excellent album Eight Pieces, One World album two years ago but musically the Belgian metallers still rock the juices out of us as proven by new encounter Odd Memories. Max Pie fills their third album with all the essences which made its predecessor a surprising and compelling proposition but it is with bigger and bolder imagination and creative energy. We are no major heavy/power metal fans here to be honest but once again Max Pie has given us one thumping and rousing time.The band was formed in 2005 by vocalist Tony Carlino taking inspirations from bands such as Symphony X, Van Halen, Toto, Queensr├┐che, and Dream Theater into their emerging ideas. A slightly unstable time in personnel graced their early years before Max Pie released debut album Initial Process in 2012. Fan and critically acclaimed it was surpassed by Eight Pieces – One World a year later in presence, sound, and praise. Its release was followed by the band playing numerous festivals and undertaking tours with the likes of Symphony X, Evergrey, Fates Warning, Avantasia, and Queensr├┐che. Now they return with, as the last album, the Simone Mularoni mixed and mastered Odd Memories and simply their finest, most inventive proposal yet.The album opens with its title track; an instrumental ripe with a foreboding atmosphere and epic textures all cinematically imposing on the imagination. This type of beginning is becoming a common practice across varied metal offerings but when done right, as here, it makes a potent invitation into any release. As the track slips into the following Age of Slavery, a sizzling electronic coaxing colludes with rampant riffs and a melodic embrace of keys. The thick commanding rhythms of drummer Sylvain Godenne shape and invigorate the track further, framing the growling vocals of Carlino perfectly. The frontman’s diverse delivery is as magnetic as ever, some elements more powerful and potent than others but like the music, a constant lure that likes to stretch and push both song and musician. As the guitar and keyboard craft of Damien Di Fresco builds and expands its enterprise, the track blossoms into a sturdy and fiery encounter to really kick things off.It is also, in many ways, a relatively straight forward and maybe expected proposal from the band, the new exploration showing itself more from Odd Future on. Keys breed the first mesmeric caress on the third track before guitars and the wonderfully dark throated bass of Lucas Boudina bring their hues to the emerging and stirring landscape of the encounter. Once vocals join, the song settles into a melodic roar and sonic flame of melodic and heavy rock ‘n’ roll, their union a heated and tenacious arousing of ears and thoughts veined by sparkling, and at times understated temptation from the keys. It is when things go off kilter with a glorious stretch of discord kissed invention and melodic bedlam that the song really comes alive and if there is any moan it does not play in this great moment long enough.Promised Land opens on a vivacious escapade of keys quickly encased in storming riffs and rhythms, it all quickly blooming into a virulently contagious slice of rock pop with classic metal and progressive rock hues. It has single running through its potent craft and lusty veins, every second of the track a bold and rousing incitement for body, voice, and emotions. Such its power and lure, it gives next up Love Hurts a hard time trying to follow it, and as mesmeric in melodic beauty within tempestuously emotional and physical terrain that it is, it never quite finds the same full-blooded personal reactions as its predecessor. It is undeniably superbly crafted and woven though and does leave only fully satisfied thoughts before the darker, ravenous excellence of Don’t Call My Name takes over. The guitars alone are predatory with their creative rummaging of the senses whilst the keys float with celestial temptation above them and the uncompromising rhythms spearing it all. Reaping the ripest elements of technical and progressive metal, band and track pulsate as they gnaw on ears, adding melodic and harmonic balm to the increasingly irresistible voracity on offer. With Carlino also on fine form, the track is the pinnacle of the album, reason alone to eagerly approach Odd Memories.The acoustically brewed Hold On slips in next to transfix and from a slow start to its persuasion grows into a big favourite. Whether by chance or intention, it has a Bowie-esque essence to it, a floating whisper in quieter moments which does it no harm. It is a scent soon out flamed by vocals and the sonic blaze giving the song rich crescendos and a breath-taking finale before Unchain Me takes the listener on another tumultuous ride of rugged metal and tantalising electronic adventure.No prizes in guessing some of the scenery within Cyber Junkie, its electronic and industrial endeavour a potent spicing to another song offering a compelling fusion of bestial metal and melodic flirtation, the former steering the ship with invigorating success. As Don’t Call My Name before it, the track is a masterful web of varied and diverse styles in one predacious provocateur, thoughts of bands from Anthrax to Armored Saint, Dream Theater to Skyharbor coming to mind across its exciting and again show stealing soundscape.The album is finished by The Fountain Of Youth, a song which either a raging storm of a canter or a gentle caress enthrals and sparks only the keenest attention and support from ears and emotions. Like a couple of other songs it takes longer to get all of its hooks inescapably entrenched but with its additional symphonic elegance and emotively hued strings, the song has seduced long before realisation notices.Wrapped in the excellent artwork of Didier Scohier, Odd Memories and indeed Max Pie have caught us again with a tempest of sound and invention driven by craft and passion. This time it is bigger, more adventurous, and confirming the band as one of progressive power metal’s finest." - The RingMaster Review
    $15.00
  • After a long silence Israel's best known death metal band returns. "Mabool" is the band's third album - a concept work with a Biblical theme. The band has always had a unique slant to their sound and it carries on here....it's an eclectic mix of death metal and Middle Eastern flavors. I always would kid about this band and describe their sound as "death metal goes to a bar mitzvah". Comes with a bonus disc in which the band does acoustic versions of some of their old material as well as a cover of "Mercy" from Paradise Lost. Avant-metal that really deserves to be heard.
    $7.00
  • "To avoid any lingering confusion right from the outset,  you may already be aware of this band because AudioPlastik began life under a different name or names to be more precise. Both Alpha Flood and Brave New Sky were trialled before the trio settled on the name AudioPlastik. Whatever the name though, it’s a musical collaboration which will more than prick the ears of fans of progressive rock or metal music. The trio is fronted none other than Dec Burke, the vocalist for Darwin’s Radio and Frost* as well as being a well thought of solo artist in his own right. Dec also plays the guitar and is joined by the impressive duo of Simon Andersson (Darkwater, ex-Pain Of Salvation) and Threshold’s keyboardist Richard West. Being a fan of all of the names mentioned in the preceding sentences, I have naturally been very excited to hear the final product ever since a debut album was announced to see the light of day early this year.The album is due out in the very near future and goes by the title of ‘In The Head Of A Maniac’. With a title like this, you’d be forgiven for thinking that the content of this record might be a bizarre, challenging or even a wild schizophrenic beast. However, you’d be wrong, at least to a certain extent anyway. This is progressive music and as such, it does blend many ideas into its collective whole. But it is far from being impenetrable or a difficult listen.To be honest, the most difficult thing is to accurately describe the musical direction on ‘In The Head of a Maniac’. In itself it’s an absorbing listen full of wondrous aspects, one that is instantly likeable but ever more addictive as the number of spins increases. But to be more exact in order to offer a worthwhile review? Ok…If I was to try and sum this album up in a few words, I’d say it’s an absorbing blend of melodic progressive rock, metal and pop with rich cinematic overtones.Dealing with the latter aspect first, the cinematic, symphonic flavour can be heard right from the outset via the relatively brief instrumental opening. This is Richard West at his best, creating a piece of music which is subtly dramatic, emotive and pure film soundtrack fodder. In fact, much the same can be said of the even more dramatic ‘Traveller’ which is equally as enthralling and which could easily fit a suspense or action thriller.That said, West’s stamp is all over each of the thirteen compositions, bringing a rich elegance to proceedings just like he does with Threshold. Whether it’s via more subtle layers of atmospheric synths or more in-your-face modern-sounding embellishments, of which there are several (‘John Doe’) it always fits the song perfectly, providing a foundation of real depth and richness upon which all else is built.Next there’s the guitar playing of Burke and Andersson which is actually surprisingly heavy. Occasionally it is reminiscent in tone of numerous djent artists, particularly when the riffs chug in step with a rumbling bass (also courtesy of Andersson) and powerful drumming. ‘It Matters So Much’ illustrates this perfectly and is also a track that also greatly benefits from a rare and decadent lead guitar solo. This being prog, naturally many of the riffs play around with interesting, complicated tempos and time signatures but they are never complex for the sake of it and never detract from the essence of the songs. A prime example being ‘The Sound Of Isolation’ which contains a riff which befuddles my brain but which works in and around the simpler aspects of the song.One of the biggest strengths on this record however is its melodic sensibility. I mentioned earlier about the pop influences and its in the choruses that this is most noticeable. Just about every song has a hook or a melody that’s memorable. Some are immediate and others take a bit longer to work into the psyche. Regardless, they are there and many of them, alongside those modern programmed flourishes, lend the music that more mainstream feel. ‘Leave Me Here’ and the beautiful ‘Now’ for example, might not be out of place on mainstream popular radio. Elsewhere, ‘Bulletproof’ offers one of the most gorgeous choruses I’ve heard in recent times, ironic given that it’s also one of the heavier, busier tracks that packs a lot of light and shade as well as apparently disparate elements into its relatively short length. Oh and then there’s the stunning closer, ‘Distant Skies’ which pushes ‘Bulletproof’ very close, almost beating it depending on my mood when I listen.Then, to top things off, you’ve got the vocals of Burke. Those familiar with his other work with Frost* or Darwin’s Radio will know exactly what to expect and he doesn’t disappoint. Burke has a tone that’s very melodic and almost soothing but which also has a slightly rough, gritty edge to it that I really like. It means that the vocal delivery can fit both the softer, more introspective parts but which can also do justice to the heavier moments that require something a bit edgier vocally.As you can probably tell, I’m completely enamoured by this album. Almost imperceptibly, it has burrowed into my head and my heart and it refuses to let go. If your tastes dictate that you enjoy music that is rich and varied, deep and thoughtful, beautiful and genuinely unique, look no further than ‘In The Mind Of A Maniac’ by AudioPlastic. You won’t be disappointed." - Man Of Much Metal  
    $16.00
  • Japan only release of the new live album from Anekdoten. Concentrating on material from "From Within" and "Gravity" it also features two unreleased tracks. This is pure fire. Highly recommended.
    $18.00
  • Their first effort following the breakup of Sanctuary.
    $8.00
  • Ninth album from this Swedish band.  Katatonia's music shares a kindred spirit with that of Opeth and Tool.  Very much emotion driven with a dark vibe through out.  It doesn't come more melancholy than this one... "Despite being into their third decade, gloomy Swedish progressive metallers Katatonia are still producing fine work. 2009’s Night Is the New Day was heralded as the band’s finest ever album, and with prog’s increasing influence evident across the more facile end of the metal spectrum, this band is doing better than ever. Dead End Kings marks another progression for this outfit – in terms of album structure, anyway. While their previous effort was a sumptuous effort with a sum greater than its parts, this ninth album is a collection of fantastic, searching songs that stand alone as well as they do together. It’s still completely and utterly miserable, though… so very, very miserable. The cellos in opening track The Parting add solemn layers to music that is already laden with sorrow and introspection. It’s a multifarious affair from then on in. The slightly sinister Hypnone adds strength before the album succumbs to the mellow, emotive The Racing Heart. Buildings is the most resolutely metal track here. Its humungous riffs are positioned at exactly the moment where the listener may have been lulled into a false sense of security, bludgeoning guitars swelling the song’s belly with a fiercely charged beauty. There are other moments of grandiose, majestic beauty breaking up the murkiness, but Buildings is the only piece of metal you’re going to get.Dead Letters is massively reminiscent of Tool – and while the American prog-grungers remain at work on their overdue fifth LP, it’s a very welcome sound. It doesn’t last though. As with everything Katatonia do, the song wanders off into another direction, atmospheric moments splintering into sparse orchestration, Jonas Renkse’s murmured voice flying across the top throughout. <br><br>The closer is certainly the finest standalone song here, bringing Dead End Kings to a glorious and complex end. There’s no grand climax. It just fades to dust, allowing you to reflect upon yet another excellent album from Katatonia." - BBC
    $15.00
  • "As we’ve been chronicling all year long, 2013 has been a great year for Norwegian progressive metal with some excellent progressive power metal from Illusion Suite, Tellus Requiem and Pellek, the new album by the long-running prog metal band Divided Multitude, the fantastic new album by Leprous and the exciting debut by Withem (you can read our review here).  Now, into that great mix the young band Vicinity has just released their debut full -length album, Awakening and it easily stands with the best of what their countrymen have produced this year. The band works in a decidedly melodic and dramatic fashion anchored around the wonderful voice of Alexander Lykke, the multi-faceted guitars of Kim-Marius Olsen and the powerful drumming of Frode Lillevold.  Interestingly there are no keyboards on the album (except for a few background sounds for effects) which wasn’t readily apparent to me at first because the songs are so well written and the vocal melodies are so strong. Olsen multi-tracks soft and harder textures to really give the album a rich sound.  The album has a great full sound and was mastered by the prolific Jens Bogren.Awakening is an hour long album but only has six songs.  Three are in the 11-14 minute range and the other three are between 5-6 minutes. The longer songs are not really more complex, but just feel necessary to the structure of each song which is really a testament to the band’s composition style -- the band will do a long song if warranted but works well in both long and short song formats.  The album begins with Mass Delusion which starts as a high-energy rocker but has a great instrumental mid-section that propels the song to its energetic conclusion. Opportunities Lost is the longest song on the album at over 14 minutes and is a deceptively simple song that consistently builds tension throughout the piece, alternates between short instrumental interludes, both soft and hard, and has a great vocal melody that ends in a wonderfully dramatic finale. Again, it’s fairly simple in structure but is so well written that I couldn’t believe it was as long as it was.  I was reminded of what great neo-progressive bands like IQ often do so well -- take a great idea and vary and expand on it to great emotional conclusions.  Across The River is a shorter, five minute song and is mostly a ballad that builds in intensity throughout to a powerful finale.   Walk All The Way is an 11-minute song that’s easily my favorite on the album as its got some of the most beautiful vocals on Awakening, has the heaviest section on the album right in the middle (complete with some harsher vocals for contrast and intensity) before building to a wonderfully majestic finale.  Olsen also really shines here as well with some great emotional soloing.  The Time For Change is next and it’s yet another amazing power ballad that shows, yet again how well this band can create drama and excitement.  The album ends with the 11 minute album title song that has a fairly heavy opening section but ends with a stunningly beautiful epic finish.  Honestly there’s not a weak moment on this album and if dramatic and emotionally affective progressive metal is your cup of tea, this album will hit you hard.Awakening is a really, really solid album that has so much going for it. It’s got a great, joyously youthful spirit and is decidedly focused on the emotional content instead of trying to wow the listener with technicality.   Vicinity is primarily a band of great melodic songwriters and they have the perfect vocalist in Lykke to carry out their vision of exciting  progressive music and if they continue on this path could really make some waves in this great genre." - Prog Metal Zone
    $15.00
  • ""Scattered Horizons" is the closest thing to a female-fronted Symphony X that the world will ever see—I don't think a sex change is on Russell Allen's to-do list. The album was penned by an Austrian group calling itself Siren's Cry, and they show a magical amount of coherent songwriting and surprising instrumental performances throughout what is their first full-length effort. Stylistically, Siren's Cry takes copious amounts of influence from early Symphony X (think "The Divine Wings of Tragedy" through "V") and some fellow Austrian exports such as Edenbridge, obviously including dazzling guitar work, elegant keyboards, and other authentic qualities of the progressive power metal regime. Fronted by one Katarina Bilak, "Scattered Horizons" makes the grass a little greener, the wings of tragedy a bit more divine.Bilak fronts the group excellently, though her tone and performance require some conditioning on the listener's end; this genre has much more Russell Allen-esque types and the like, so having Bilak rule the vocal realm might throw off some folks at first. However, she fits Siren's Cry's host of traits and techniques wonderfully, especially during the schizophrenic "A Controversial Mind," in which she flies all over the place and kicks a whole lot of rumps in the process. Many of the anthems are quite memorable and hooking, with several boasting stellar choruses, complicated guitar/keyboard leads that are done with care and precision, and noteworthy performances from the rhythm section as well. "Cold Amber & Scalding Tears," the ballad, is surprisingly decent, like most of the release; no track manages to misfire.And yes, they occasionally come off as a little too dependent on the structures of Symphony X, because they, you know, sound like Symphony X. The main riff from "Oratory & Sins," for example, is almost the same central guitar sequence of "Of Sins and Shadows," and Siren's Cry generally moves around like its primary influence. Well, I guess it's nice that I've been arrested at least four times for stalking Symphony X, otherwise I'd find it a little annoying. However, minor irritations like the unoriginal guitar work are few and far between; Siren's Cry proves itself to be a very unique and imaginary bunch. Tracks like "Elegy of R'lyeh" and its smooth jazz section are superb cuts of progressive metal at its finest, while explosive numbers such as "Serpents of War" and "Draconian Spectrum" display rapid themes and intensity kicked up a notch or two, clearly more in line with the power metal side of the coin.Other than the minor idiosyncrasies that the folks of Siren's Cry can call their own, a grand portion of the work within "Scattered Horizons" is somewhat of a special, unexpected treat for folks intrigued by the progressive power metal style that has been mastered by Symphony X and reproduced by many others. "Scattered Horizons" captures the grandiose themes and perplexing musical aspects of the identity without sacrificing admirable songwriting in the process, and Siren's Cry shows an ample amount of persistence and maturity at album one. I'm not calling this a masterpiece to acquire immediately, but it's worth a shot if you enjoy Symphony X. Nicely done." - antiMusic.com
    $12.00
  • The progressive elements are in full force and many of the band's signature pieces appear here. Highly recommended.  Remastered edition.
    $5.00